Measuring efficiency in the suicide prevention context faces two key challenges:
- Lack of outcome data
- Difficulties assessing the cost of suicide, and consequent economic benefit of prevention
However as detailed in Chapter 8, outcome measurement using validated tools has been rare among NSPP-funded projects. Only three of the 47 projects conducted evaluations that measured outcomes using validated tools (see Section 8.3). Challenges associated with outcome measurement are identified in Chapter 8, and Chapter 12 identifies ways to improve outcome measurement in future.
A further key challenge is that there is limited information available about the financial cost of suicide in Australia (see Appendix E), making it difficult to determine the economic benefit of prevention. Indeed, the report on the Senate Inquiry into Suicide, The Hidden Toll115, sought to address this deficit by recommending that the Australian Government commission a detailed independent economic assessment of the cost of suicide and attempted suicide in Australia.
Efficiency was therefore examined from the following perspectives:
- Apparent cost efficiency of projects calculated by relating costs to outputs (ie, hours of service delivered) to enable analysis and comparison of average cost-per-hour of service delivery
- Sustainability of projects
- Potential efficiency improvements, based on consultations with project representatives and the Department
- The cost per hour of service provision varied across projects.
- Projects that provided relatively more hours of direct service provision (to individuals or groups) tended to have a lower cost per hour and hence appear to be more efficiently delivering services.
- Projects that spend relatively more time on travel and event/activity planning, appear to have higher costs, ie, travel and event/activity planning appear to be key driver of costs.
- Improved contract management, eg, speedier notification of contract awards and greater engagement of DoHA contract managers with projects
- More streamlined reporting that is less repetitive and more inclusive of project activities
- Greater care in data management so that resubmission of data is not required